General Question

answerjill's avatar

Would you keep a jar of mayonaise that had been left out of the refrigerator?

Asked by answerjill (5693 points ) November 18th, 2012

I accidentally forgot to put a jar of mayo back in the fridge after I used it last night. The jar was sealed, but unrefrigerated overnight for about 12 hours. My apartment’s temperature is comfortable – not too hot, not too cold.

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97 Answers

Shippy's avatar

Does it smell OK? I would if it didn’t smell funny or sour or different.

gailcalled's avatar

If you have used it, you must have broken the seal. Do you mean that the lid is screwed on?

Home-made mayo is made with a raw egg yolk. So is Hellman’s. Personally, I would toss it just to be on the safe side.

“Ingredients in Hellman’s”: Not too bad.

SOYBEAN OIL, WATER, WHOLE EGGS AND EGG YOLKS, VINEGAR, SALT, SUGAR, LEMON JUICE, CALCIUM DISODIUM EDTA (USED TO PROTECT QUALITY), NATURAL FLAVORS.

janbb's avatar

“It will be fine,” she stated categorically.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

If I have a question about something it goes. Especially just before Turkey Day.

flo's avatar

By sealed do you mean unopened at all? It doesn’t need to be in the fridge until it is unsealed/ opened. Otherwise I would throw it out.

glacial's avatar

12 hours? No problem.

I really think people are too quick to throw away good food without cause. Remember that these guidelines are meant to err on the side of extreme caution.

answerjill's avatar

Clarification: Last night, I opened a new jar of Hellman’s. I used some. I then screwed the top back on, but forgot to put it back in the fridge.

Coloma's avatar

Make a sandwich and if you are not vomiting within 2 hours the mayo is fine.
You have 2 choices, pitch it or offer yourself up as an experiment in food poisoning. You won’t die, and this too shall pass, probabally multiple times. lol

Earthgirl's avatar

Mayonnaise is wrongly blamed for food poisoning. Commercially prepared mayonnaise has pasteurized eggs and is acidic which actually kills bacteria. It should be safe. Check this out for more details.

AshlynM's avatar

Nothing is worth your health to save a few bucks . I’d probably throw it out just to be safe.

jca's avatar

It’s a gamble. Personally, I’d prefer to lose the money that it cost and not gamble.

Once when I was about 15, I came home from school and made myself a tuna fish sandwich, which of course had mayo in it. I was in bed, in such pain, I really felt like dying would be preferable. I then threw up after a few hours and felt a bit better. When my parents came home, they threw out the mayo. It just was not worth it.

I don’t think the gamble of whether or not the mayo is good or not is worth it.

bhec10's avatar

What’s the temperature in your kitchen? If it’s rather cold then it shouldn’t be too bad, but be sure to check the color and smell of it before eating it again. You don’t wanna mess around with rotten egg products, they can give you nasty stomach infections.

Once I ate a croissant with this egg-based sweet in it and it must have been spoiled because I spent the next 6 days in bed with really bad stomach aches.

So yeah, maybe chuck it away.

marinelife's avatar

Not mayonnaise. It is the prefect growing medium for bad bacteria. 12 hours is too long. I have thrown away a jar in the past when just that happened.

jca's avatar

It might be ok but why play with “what if?”

rooeytoo's avatar

I would pitch it without a doubt. I am not a spendthrift, but I would rather be safe than sorry. How much does a jar cost? Probably less than a bottle of kaopectate!

glacial's avatar

GA, @Earthgirl – some good information there.

@jca Why are you so convinced that the mayo is what made you sick?

Adagio's avatar

Absolutely, I would definitely keep it.

cazzie's avatar

Any other lab techs here or microbiologists? I’m going to tell you that it is OK, and then I am going to tell you why.

1.. It was a brand new, fresh jar.

2. You took a few scoops out of it with, what I am guessing, was a clean knife and not your fingers or the cat or dog’s pooper scooper.

3.. the pH of mayonnaise will actually KILL common bacteria that it comes into contact with. It is acidic due to the vinegar.

Now, here is a brochure from the EXPERTS on food safety. I suggest all you people who panic at the thought of a mayo salad being left out over night read this.

http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/fsrl/pubs/Handouts/mayo.pdf

cazzie's avatar

thank you, @Adagio. I’m a cosmetics formulator, I have to know a thing or two about microbiology, don’t you think?

reijinni's avatar

I HATE mayo and let’s leave it at that.

Earthgirl's avatar

@cazzie Absolutely right! The mayonnaise not only doesn’t grow bacteria, it actually kills bacteria it comes into contact with due to the acidity of the lemon and vinegar and the salt content. They say the reason for refrigeration of commercial mayonnaise has more to do with taste and freshness than safety. But this only pertains to commercially made mayonnaise. That is the caveat. Homemade mayonnaise is another story altogether.

glacial Thank you!

glacial's avatar

@cazzie The link you posted is to the same handout that @Earthgirl posted. Great minds… :)

cazzie's avatar

I just scanned and saw so many mis-informed answers, I posted mine. Sorry @Earthgirl. Didn’t mean to not give credit.

Earthgirl's avatar

@cazzie No problem, thanks. I try to give the factual evidence on something like this. I wasn’t sure, so I looked it up.

cazzie's avatar

@Earthgirl I was the opposite,... I was sure, but knew that people had no reason to take my word for it and VERY quickly found a simple reference regarding the issue, with cartoons. People like cartoons.

filmfann's avatar

I actually have nightmares about mayonnaise being left out of the fridge. It’s gotta go.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’d keep it. I try to never throw out food.
I like @cazzie ‘s answer. Clean knife, new jar. Keep it .

I figure if its smells and looks ok it is worth a shot.
What does not kill you makes you stronger.

Kardamom's avatar

I live with 2 people with compromised immune systems, so I would never take that chance. I’d rather spend another 4 or 5 bucks on a new jar.

rooeytoo's avatar

I always use the dogs’ pooper scooper to get the mayo out of the jar! Are you saying I shouldn’t be doing that???

Buttonstc's avatar

I routinely keep COMMERCIALLY MADE mayo at room temp.

As has been previously mentioned, the acidic content is very high so you’re not going to have anything poisonous growing.

The worst that happens is that the oil can turn rancid but that’s a matter of taste rather than safety.

And I have also gotten a jar opened the same day I brought it home from the store and it tasted off because it was rancid. It was sealed and all but perhaps had Bern in the warehouse or on the shelf for too long.

But under normal circumstances I’ve had of last for a few months without refrigeration and still alive to tell about it.

If it makes you feel any better mentally, then toss it but I’m just telling you my personal experience and what I’ve read from reliable sources. It’s got more than enough vinegar in it to quell any worries I might have.

cazzie's avatar

This is one of those stories that relate to that other thread, ‘Why won’t people listen to logic?’ questions.

cazzie's avatar

@rooeytoo I am not surprised and you can do what ever you want with the dogs’ pooper scooper. I was replying to @answerjill ‘s question.

Response moderated (Spam)
answerjill's avatar

Wow, I did not expect that this question would create so much interest! I am just going to keep quiet about what I have decided so that the answers will keep coming!

glacial's avatar

@answerjill But we are only passing the time until you return to tell us what you did!

LuckyGuy's avatar

The suspense is killing me!!! You need to tell everyone what you decided to do – and the results..
Hopefully you can use this as a teachable moment to help make the world a greener place by proving the germophobes wrong.
You will save some of the world’s supply of eggs, soy oil, glass or plastic, vinegar, and sugar plus all the resources it took to manufacture the product, deliver it to the store, and the time and energy it took you to bring it home.
You will also save the money you spent on that container. Invest it wisely (in firearms and ammunition equities) and years from now it will help fund your retirement.

Please, do let us know.

gailcalled's avatar

With seven common ingredients (including salt and a pinch of sugar) and 10 minutes and a whisk, you can easily make your own mayo. It will keep, in the fridge, for a week.

Recipe

glacial's avatar

@LuckyGuy…but no pressure, of course.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@glacial Absolutely. People are free to stand on whatever side of the climate “debate” their conscience allows. ;-)

gailcalled's avatar

Even simpler recipe with four ingredients plus salt.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I wouldn’t. It has eggs in it, so that would make me paranoid. If it’s been sitting out for more than 3–4 hours (like when we have a hamburger party), I’d toss it and pay the $2 for a new jar.

flo's avatar

What does Mayo Clinic say about it?

flo's avatar

Now I am convinced that the commercial mayo is not as dangerous as the homemade kind, but still isn’t there a limit? How long can it be kept out? Or does it never need to be in the fridge at all?

rooeytoo's avatar

@flo, Mayo Clinic! good one!!!

flo's avatar

@rooeytoo I have no problem with puns. A lot of people groan. Why??

I hope I get an answer to my question. If it is so safe, then can we even leave it out of the fridge completely?

glacial's avatar

@flo Perhaps @Buttonstc is the only one who knows for sure.

flo's avatar

Okay thanks @glacial for reminding me of @Buttonstc‘s answer.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

mayo isn’t bought in the refrigerator aisle so that makes me think it has a longer shelf life than we think it does.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@nofurbelowsbatgirl Well, no, but neither are baby food or pudding, and they both still say “refrigerate after opening.” If it tells me to refrigerate it, I follow instructions. :)

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

The truth is only 2–3 hrs, so I hope you threw the jar away as suggested by Web MD’s table of condiments

jca's avatar

@nofurbelowsbatgirl: It’s not from the refrigerator aisle when it’s unopened, sealed from the factory without having been touched by air. Opened, it’s another story.

I just go back to why take the gamble, why risk being terribly sick, why go on “it should be ok.” All that for a few dollars?

gailcalled's avatar

Is now the right time to mention the spelling? Mayonnaise

Celtic_One's avatar

If you are not sure about if the mayo is still good or not, so I would say best to throw it out. The amount of money you would lose from throwing out what is left is nothing compared to the total loss of time and money if you get sick. Not to mention that psychologically even if it is safe you might make yourself sick by eating it when you are not sure even if it turns out to have been completely safe.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

My answer was supposed to be all in one. My first answer was a comment about what seems to me the most likely answer as to why ppl would assume it is ok to leave mayo out of the fridge for long periods of time after being opened.

I had a blip with my PC so I had to answer in 2 different sections sorry.

The real answer to the question about mayonnaise being out of the fridge is that after 2–3hrs of being out of the fridge it is no longer good anymore.

24hrs out of the fridge and mayo is garbage. The End.

jca's avatar

Although if you’re looking to lose a few pounds, and you end up sick and puking and have diarrhea, that might get some weight off quickly.

glacial's avatar

@nofurbelowsbatgirl “The real answer to the question about mayonnaise being out of the fridge is that after 2 to 3hrs of being out of the fridge it is no longer good anymore. 24hrs out of the fridge and mayo is garbage. The End.”

Despite the fact that ample evidence to the contrary has been provided in this thread already? What is your evidence, other than you just think it should be that way?

cazzie's avatar

I think it would also completely depend on the brand. Perhaps, ‘fresh goumet’ brands from deli’s that are bought refrigerated and are made with little or no vinegar or lemon juice will, indeed go off after 2–3 hours, but the general commercial brands, that taste of more vinegar and are probably labelled with a fair amount of preservatives, with E Numbers that are both acid regulators, like citric acid or sorbic acid, and antioxidants to help slow the oils going off (the oils going off is not a health risk, just a smell and taste issue) in their list would be safer as discussed earlier. So, I would like to qualify my answer too. If you buy the handmade deli stuff, 2 or 3 hours. If you buy a jar of Kraft you’d be safe over night. I suggest everyone read all ingredients list and learn about what is in the stuff they eat and put on their skin, but I’m a bit odd like that. I realise not everyone has pH strips handy, too. (but they are darn fun to play with and test on things!)

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

@glacial I already gave my evidence and it is via the Web MD Table Of Condiments

So no I do not just think it should be that way.

flo's avatar

All nutritionists, food experts I’ve heard have always said to throw it out.
.
@nofurbelowsbatgirl I clicked on “Mayonnaise” on that link (Web MD) and it says “Unopened “2–3 months”???

@Buttonstc have you always done that out of tradition, or do you have a link as well?

What are the most reliable sources? I would think there are many.

flo's avatar

What are the most reliable sources of info on this kind of topic? I tried http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/refridg_food.html

f you can post other food safety related sources please?

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

@flo I noticed it says that. So I don’t really know.

Did you know there is an Association for Dresses and Sauces! What they say about mayo is different. So I suppose you choose your posion.
This is what they say.

Earthgirl's avatar

This source seems to contradict my previous post;

“Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish

Discard if above 50 °F for over 8 hrs.”
As does this one.
And also this
I don’t know what to think now.
I have to admit that I usually err on the side of safety.
It’s funny (or actually sad) that since Hurricane Sandy there seems to be a lot of into on the web about food safety during disasters. I found several such references.

gailcalled's avatar

When in doubt, take the $2.98 for a 15 oz.jar of Hellman’s Mayo as a capital loss. Then throw the mayo on your compost.

jca's avatar

Really. Is it worth getting sick over a few dollars? Shaking my head still!

flo's avatar

@jca‘s “Really. Is it worth getting sick over a few dollars? Shaking my head still!”
reminds me the so called “five second rule
Experiment to refute it

flo's avatar

@nofurbelowsbatgirl
I wouldn’t want to go by the association (of anything) really if I have a choice. It even says mayo is good for your health. Avoid ketchup, mayonnaise if you can, is what I’ve always heard. Very strange how this can be debatable too.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Five years from now that $2.98 will be worth about $3.50. Around that time you will withdraw some cash from a fee charging ATM and forget about it. Until you make a payment for your car insurance and it bounces because you are overdrawn by $2.00. The bank will slap on a $30 fee while the insurance company notifies the state that you are uninsured. They send a Repo guy to impound your car. Without the car, you can’t get to work and soon lose your job and cannot pay your mortgage. Homelessness is not far behind. All the possessions you can recover fit into a shopping cart that you push around while being followed by cats.

Save the Mayo.

rooeytoo's avatar

@LuckyGuy – omg, I am in tears now!

answerjill's avatar

UPDATE: I kept it and it seems to be fine.

janbb's avatar

As a related issue, I work at a Food Bank and they have us throw out jars of peanut butter that are past their sell-by date. I wouldn’t think peanut butter would ever go bad.

cazzie's avatar

@janbb peanut butter can go off the same way as oil does, but the only way to know is if you open and smell it. Again, it is that the oil goes rancid, which is NOT poisonous, but it just smells bad. Usually 9 to 12 months. Peanut butter has a very low moisture content, so it isn’t bacteria or mould that is getting in there. That being said, if there are salmonilla colonies present at the factory it is produced, the peanut butter is screwed from the day it hits the jar. http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/peanut-butter-recall-salmonella-poisoning-link-17380292

janbb's avatar

@cazzie Thanks for the info.

flo's avatar

Wow that is really a waste to throw out just because of the date.

janbb's avatar

@flo I agree.

flo's avatar

@janbb I think the practitioners of .......(I forgot the name I know it is not frugonomics but similar sounding word. They live on the perfectly good food that the supermarkets throw out just because esthetics) need to be made aware of this.

janbb's avatar

Well, I am sorting food at a food bank before it goes out to pantries. Some of the food can be kept past it’ date and some can’t. They are very strict about us checking.

flo's avatar

It is understandable though that they do that, or else there might have a scandal on their hands.

janbb's avatar

Yes, I think they have to be very careful.

rooeytoo's avatar

I can’t stand that rancid smell from old peanut butter. Ramen noodles that are too old get the same smell, it makes me not want to eat it whether it will kill me or not!

flo's avatar

—By the way can you eat Ramen noodles raw?

I have never come across bad peanut butter. I use it all the time.

rooeytoo's avatar

@flo, I see people who just sprinkle the flavoring packet onto the hard uncooked noodles and munch away. Doesn’t appeal to me but whatever!!!

In the tropics peanut butter would get rancid very quickly if you kept it in your cupboard. If you kept it in the refrigerator, no problems. But I don’t like cold, stiff peanut butter. So the solution was to buy the smallest jars (plastic jars) and eat it fast!

flo's avatar

@rooeytoo
I wish I could eat raw ramen, less work. The people I see don’t even need the flavoring.

—By the way I wasn’t referring to homeless people earlier.From Wiki “By reusing resources destined for the landfill, dumpster diving becomes an environmentalist endeavor (and is thus practiced by many pro-green communities). ...

Here is the latest on waste

rooeytoo's avatar

My husband was just telling me he read that 60% of food produced is wasted due to use by dates and fear of litigation. I don’t know if that was Australia specific or world wide. If I were starving I am sure I would eat the out of code, slightly rancid smelling noodles, it is a shame they have to be disposed instead of feeding someone who is starving. I have never dumpster dived but I did work in a supermarket and would often bring home food that was destined for the rubbish because of dates.

prescott_j's avatar

When growing up, my mother kept things like jams and jellies, kethup, mustard, etc. in the cupboard, even after opening them. Today I put some of these in the fridge. While I still leave others out. For the longest time I treated mayo (miracle whip) like a sacred object which needed to be treated with great care lest it kill me for mishandling it. One day I heard a food expert on TV say that mayo will last a lot longer so long as you keep food debris from remaining in the mayo. So that is all I usually worry about now. Clean cutlery.

Today, I realize I had left my mayo out overnight. Actually a little longer. About 18 hours. It’s the squeeze bottle, which means no concern about foreign debris in the mayo. I put it back in the fridge, uncertain of it’s fate. I googled and ended up here. So I thought, “maybe I’ll get sick… but I really want to find out if it will go bad that quickly.” So I am on hour 6 since consumption of sandwich with a healthy dose of the mayo… which smelled and tasted fine. Usually food poisoning takes about 12 hours to turn my gut… or at least, that is how long it has taken the 2 occasions I have been poisoned (by restaurants). However, shortly after eating, I remember dealing with an after taste and felt something was wrong both times. So I’m taking the present good feeling as an indication that the mayo is fine. If I do not follow up, it means that I have either died or there is no problem. Hmm… that really doesn’t help anybody, does it? Okay… I’ll report tomorrow.

BTW, my grandmother was known to put KFC (fried chicken) in the cupboard for several days. Difficult to imagine now. But my cousin used to eat it all the time and never got sick.

augustlan's avatar

@prescott_j Welcome to Fluther! We hope you don’t die. :)

prescott_j's avatar

12 hours later… feeling great… perhaps the chili last night before bed counteracted the effects of the “bad” mayo? :P

cazzie's avatar

Can I just add that ‘Miracle Whip’ is NOT mayonnaise? I mean,... really people…

prescott_j's avatar

@cazzie – true, but given the range of responses, I’m willing to guess that those who would not eat mayo that was left out would also treat m. whip the same and for the same reasons. Are their fears real or imagined? I didn’t read about anyone claiming to have gotten sick from eating mayo that was left out for a few hours let alone overnight (forgive me if I missed them). But it’s 19 hours and I am fine. and I wasn’t stingy with the whip. I put a good dose on my wraps. my doc would not be happy, i suspect :)) and i will use it again today, although it was kept in the fridge last night!

cazzie's avatar

@prescott_j I think you made a calculated risk and was conservative to boot. Not to worry. But I have some knowledge of food science and bacterial microbes….so who am I to listen to when fear is certainly the voice of reason….??

flo's avatar

@prescott_j ”...my grandmother was known to put KFC (fried chicken) in the cupboard for several days”
I am amazed. Was it very cold in the house?

prescott_j's avatar

@flo – it is possible that the cupboards might have been cooler as they shared the same wall as the exterior of the house and it was an old house, but certainly not “fridge” temperatures. That said, I have not – and would not – eat KFC that was kept in the cupboard.

rooeytoo's avatar

I wouldn’t eat KFC in any way, shape or form. Go to youtube and look at the way they raise their chickens. It is horrendous for the chickens and for the people who consume their antibiotic riddled flesh.

flo's avatar

@prescott_j I wouldn’t think of eating it. We’re supposed to throw out chicken in particular after a few days in the fridge even. I suppose it is uncooked more than the cooked but still.

claudia51761's avatar

I had the same question about whether to toss my Hellmans that I left out overnight or if it’s safe to keep it. I still don’t really know what to do at this point, but I do have a new question. That question is Where do you live that you can find a jar of Hellman’s Mayo for $4 or $5 ? If it was that inexpensive here I would toss it for sure. I spent over $8 for my medium sized jar.

claudia51761's avatar

Haha!! My 31 year old son just answered my question. He said, ” Sniff it. If it smells like old stinky socks then you probably shouldn’t eat it”. Good advice. :)

Buttonstc's avatar

I routinely pay $3–4 for a 30 ounce jar of Hellman’s Mayonnaise. I live in Southeast Michigan about an hour North of Detroit.

I usually shop at either Kroger or Meijier.

Where do you live that it costs so much? And for what size jar.

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